The newest and most exciting medium available to hydroponic growers is coco coir. It is a by product of the coconut industry and it is simply made by spinning the husks of coconut. Like any new product that comes along and claims to revolutionize the industry, many growers are naturally skeptical that this new medium can perform as well as the more traditional media. But coconut fiber has numerous advantages that should impress and certainly interest any hydroponics grower. Here are few reasons you should consider ditching your old medium for the revolutionary new coco coir this growing season.
No Health Concerns – Currently, the most popular medium used in modern hydroponics is rockwool (though don’t be surprised if coconut coir surpasses that someday). Rockwool is the medium of choice because it is versatile, works fantastically for propagating, and holds air and moisture well. But it also carries some mild health concerns. Like many other insulation materials, it is a skin irritant. This means when handling or using the material, you should probably use a dust mask and gloves. Coco coir, on the other hand is completely organic and completely safe, making it much easier handle and work with.
Disease Resistant - Coco coir may very well be the first medium that comes with its own means of suppressing plant disease. Coconuts are naturally high in chemical compound called “lignin.” This compound is able to help encourage the development of beneficial bacteria, which makes it less likely for harmful bacteria to invade your system. This also means that if you choose to use a hydroponic supplement that contains beneficial microbes, they are more likely to grow, thrive, and help your system. Some studies even suggest that it works to suppress diseases like Pythium and Phytothora.
Holds Air and Water Exceptionally Well -Two big scourges that can seriously affect plant development are overwatering and underwatering. If you overwater, you will suffer root rot. If you underwater, your plants will grow weak. Coco coir can help with both of these problems. Since coconut fiber can hold nine times its own weight in water, your plants are more likely to still be able to get the resources they need. Since there is a lot of air space in between the fibers, your roots are more likely to get enough oxygen to prevent root rot.
Easy Disposal – After one or several growing seasons, many growers choose to completely dispose of their medium and purchase a fresh one. With rockwool, or clay pellets, this can be a labor intensive and burdensome proposition. Since coconut fiber is much lighter and much easier to handle, it is easy to throw away without hassle. As a bonus, since coco coir is completely organic, disposing of it will have much less an adverse affect on the environment than disposing of rockwool.
Works Great for Propagation – Many media might work well for developed plants, but do not provide sufficient conditions for seeds or stem cuttings. Coco coir is versatile enough to work with both. The porous material provides the ideal environment to provide nutrients to early forming roots, which means healthier seedlings and a high cloning success rate.